Living in the expat haven of Boquete has been a wonderful experience. A cool-weather mountain retreat in Panama’s highlands, Boquete is surrounded on all sides by flowers, fruit trees, coffee farms, and brightly colored songbirds.A fine, refreshing mist (known as bajareque) creates almost-daily rainbows and keeps the residents cool and happy.
It’s this beauty, plus the comfortable and temperate climate, that makes Boquete such a popular choice for expat living. Deciding to raise my child here was one of the best decisions my husband, Larry, and I ever made. I had always wanted a more rural, outdoor lifestyle for him, more akin to the childhood I’d enjoyed.
When we arrived in Boquete, we came across an affordable family home with a built-in income opportunity. Situated just blocks from downtown, the home came with an attached one-bedroom apartment which can be rented out to visitors, either for a few nights at a time, or for longer stints.
This not only provided enough income to support our happy lifestyle, but required only minimal time to manage and maintain. It also gave me the freedom to walk with my son the few blocks to his little school.
Diet and healthy living isn’t a luxury reserved for the wealthy in Boquete. Vegetables can be purchased in small or large quantities and are often sold the day of harvest. In addition to local stalls and our downtown market, Boquete has a spectacular and growing produce market where organics, hydroponic vegetables, and other specialty items are sold. This market rivals any elite grocery store I’ve ever seen.
Speaking as a former health insurance agent, I particularly admire how excellent and elegantly simple the healthcare in Panama is. It’s a far cry from the complicated tangled web of forms and claims you have to wrestle with in the U.S. We can visit the doctor of our choice when necessary, with nearly no waiting. And it’s always affordable, with a routine visit costing between $10 and $20, and specialists costing around $30. Having said that, in the eight years I’ve lived in Boquete, my child has almost never been ill—which I attribute to the fresh, healthy diet and outdoors lifestyle we enjoy here.
Thanks to an active and growing expat community, social life abounds in Boquete. There’s no shortage of dances or theater events, not to mention the annual and highly acclaimed Boquete Jazz and Blues Festival which occurs in February. With a seemingly endless array of clubs, classes, and volunteering opportunities, boredom is nearly impossible here.